Purpose. The differential quality rating and improvement system was developed to improve the overall quality of care by increasing the professional development and education of child care providers and to provide the public with a method to evaluate child care. Certification is required for a provider to receive a differential quality rate for children whose families are receiving
subsidized child care benefits through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).
Criteria for child care centers and homes certification levels. The certification process and quality rating and improvement criteria for child care programs is described in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:110-1-8.3 through
Request for star certification process. The following process is required for certification.
Criteria for one star centers and homes. A program operating on a permit or license is automatically designated as a one star program.
Criteria for one star plus centers and homes. To be approved as a one star plus program, the owner must complete and submit Form 07LC025E, Request for Child Care Center Star Certification, or Form 07LC027E, Request for Family Child Care Home Star Certification, and meet all criteria described in (b) of this Section.
Criteria for two star centers and homes. To be approved as a two star program, the owner must either:
(A) complete Form 07LC025E or Form 07LC027E, and meet all one star plus and two star criteria described in (b) of this Section; or
(B) complete Form 07LC025E or Form 07LC027E, meet licensing status and compliance per OAC
340:110-1-8.4, and provide documentation the program is:
(i) accredited by a national accrediting body approved by Child Care Services (CCS); or •
(ii) a Head Start grantee and compliant with Head Start Performance Standards.
Criteria for three star centers and homes. To be approved as a three star program, the owner must:
(A) complete Form 07LC025E or Form 07LC027E; and
(B) meet one star plus and two star criteria described in (b) of this Section, and either be:
(i) accredited by a national accrediting body approved by CCS; or •
(ii) a Head Start grantee and compliant with Head Start Performance Standards.
Approval for certification for centers and homes. The procedures contained in this subsection are followed for initial approval for certification and requests for higher certification level.
(1) The owner submits Form 07LC025E, or Form 07LC027E, and required documentation to CCS. •
(2) The stars outreach specialist determines whether the certification criteria have been met by reviewing the case record and documentation submitted. If it has been four months since the last monitoring visit, the stars outreach specialist requests licensing staff make a monitoring visit. The stars outreach specialist reviews all information and consults with licensing staff and the stars program administrator or designee as needed, prior to approval.
(A) The monitoring visits and substantiated complaints for the last 24 months of operation are reviewed to determine whether the program meets the compliance criteria. •
4 If, within the 24-month period reviewed, there are numerous, repeated, or serious non-compliance per OAC
340:110-1-8.4 or a single serious incident resulting in injury or imminent risk of harm to a child, the request may be denied. •
(B) If the program meets the criteria, the stars outreach specialist sends a letter confirming the approval and the effective date and updates the licensing database. •
6 If numerous, repeated, or serious non-compliance was identified during review of the case for the star certification, the letter includes a statement that these non-compliances are considered, and may result in reduction of the star certification if subsequent serious non-compliances occur.
(C) If the program fails to meet the criteria, the stars outreach specialist sends a letter identifying criteria not being met. The request for star certification is also reviewed by the stars outreach specialist to determine if another certification level can be met and updates the licensing database accordingly. •
(D) The owner may reapply at any time the criteria are met. If the request for a higher certification level is denied due to numerous, repeated, or serious non-compliance with licensing requirements, the program is not approved for a higher certification level for six months after the date of the denial of the request. The six-month waiting period may only be reduced by the regional programs manager (RPM) upon evaluation of the licensing record, written documentation of corrective actions taken, and observation and documentation by licensing staff of substantial improvement in compliance. The RPM provides written notification of the decision to the program.
(E) The owner may withdraw the request for star certification prior to denial.
(F) The owner of a center or home may request a reduction in star status at any time. The request must be made in writing to CCS. The stars outreach specialist sends a letter documenting the request for reduction, including the effective date of the new star level, and updates the licensing database with the program's new star level. A reduction request does not constitute a reduction in certification level per (h) of this Section.
Complaint investigations. Pending complaint investigations may impact the decision to approve the request for star certification. •
Ongoing review. The procedures contained in this subsection are followed for ongoing review.
Program notification to CCS. The owner, director, or primary caregiver is required to notify CCS in writing within five program- business days of any change in information affecting the program's star certification, such as loss of a master teacher. If CCS has not been notified of changes and certification criteria have not been met for over 90-calendar days, the case is reviewed by CCS staff. Referrals may be made to the stars program administrator or designee and the certification level may be reduced per (h) of this Section.
Periodic certification reviews. CCS staff completes a full star certification review using Form 07LC026E, Child Care Center Star Certification Review, or Form 07LC028E, Family Child Care Home Star Certification Review, during a minimum of three periodic monitoring visits annually verifying certification criteria is current and accurate. Programs operating less than a full year or having a cooperative licensing agreement with a tribal program are required to have a minimum of two periodic certification reviews annually.
(3) Non-compliance. If a program has serious non-compliance with licensing requirements, within a 24-month period, a serious incident resulting in injury or imminent risk of harm to a child or violations with other star criteria, the star level of one star plus, two, or three star programs may be reduced. •
Violations. If violations of certification criteria are documented, or when the program notifies CCS in writing of any change, the procedures in (A) through (C) of this paragraph are followed.
(A) CCS staff provides written notification to the director or primary caregiver and owner documenting the violations, including a statement that a reduction in the star certification level may occur when:
(i) the program has serious non-compliances with licensing requirements;
(ii) a serious incident occurs resulting in injury or imminent risk of harm to a child;
(iii) violations are not corrected in the agreed-upon time frame; or
(iv) an Emergency Order or notice of proposed denial or revocation of license is issued.
(B) The statement informs the director or primary caregiver, he or she may request an extension of time to comply, per (g) of this Section.
(C) The program submits a written plan to CCS to correct the violations within an agreed-upon time frame. The plan cannot exceed 90-calendar days from the date the violation occurred or the date a program was notified of a substantiated complaint. •
Follow up of violation of criteria. CCS staff is responsible for verifying violations of star criteria are corrected as determined by the approved plan of correction.
Written notice. CCS staff provides written notice to the owner that certification criteria are not being met when: • 11
(A) there is serious non-compliance with requirements, per OAC
(B) a serious complaint that may place the health, safety, or well-being of children at imminent risk of harm is substantiated; and/or
(C) CCS staff have knowledge the program is not meeting certification criteria, such as having an insufficient number of master teachers.
Extension of time to comply.
(1) A request for an extension of time to comply may be submitted when violations of star criteria cannot be corrected within the agreed-upon plan of correction time.
(2) A request for an extension of time to comply to meet licensing requirements, such as director qualifications is not approved.
(3) The owner, director, or primary caregiver submits Form 07LC074E, Request for Extension of Time to Comply, and supporting documentation to the stars program administrator or designee 30-calendar days prior to the expiration of the agreed-upon time frame for the correction of the violations.
(4) The decision to approve or deny an extension of time to comply is made by the stars program administrator or designee. One or more discretionary extensions of time to comply may be granted. Approval of an extension of time to comply does not set a precedent and each request is independently evaluated. The director or primary caregiver is notified of the decision in writing. •
Reduction in one star plus, two, and three star certification levels.
(1) A reduction in one star plus, two, and three star certification levels occurs when CCS issued a written Emergency Order or notice of denial or revocation of license. •13
(2) A reduction may occur when:
(A) the program has serious non-compliance with licensing requirements within a 24-month time frame; •
(B) a serious incident occurs resulting in injury or imminent risk of harm to a child;
(C) violations are not corrected within the agreed-upon time frame; or
(D) a program fails to employ a qualified director for a period of six months or more.
(3) The procedures in this subsection are followed if a reduction is warranted.
(A) Licensing staff reviews the case with the supervisor and RPM. The decision on whether to make a referral to the stars program administrator or designee is made by the RPM and referrals are made in writing to the stars program administrator or designee.
The RPM may enter into an agreement for an alternative settlement with the owner of a program in lieu of reduction. The alternative settlement documents how the program will go above and beyond minimum licensing requirements and ensure a higher standard or quality of care. It is the RPM's decision to accept or deny the alternative settlement. •
(B) If a reduction is warranted, the stars program administrator or designee sends a certified letter to the primary caregiver or director and owner documenting the reduction in certification level and notifying the provider of the right to request an administrative review of the decision.
(C) The certified mail delivery receipt card is addressed to return to the CCS director or designee.
(D) In order to receive an administrative review, the owner must submit a written request to the CCS director or designee within 15-calendar days of receipt of the reduction notification letter.
(E) The request must include written documentation stating the provider's grounds for appeal.
(4) Licensing staff updates any changes in the star status level and star payment rate following verification of receipt of the certified letter and the administrative review, if requested. • 15
(5) The purpose of the administrative review process is to determine if the reduction of the star certification level was in accordance with DHS policy and whether the reduction is substantially supported by the evidence. The procedures in (A) through (C) of this paragraph are followed when an administrative review is requested.
(A) Within 30-calendar days of receipt of the request for an administrative review, a letter is sent notifying the provider of the date of the administrative review. The letter is sent to the provider's last known address. The provider is given at least, 14-calendar days written notice prior to the administrative review. Additional documentation may be presented prior to, or at the beginning of, the administrative review, with copies provided to all representatives. The provider may submit written documentation and appear at the administrative review.
(B) The review is conducted by the stars review panel, consisting of two DHS staff not involved in the decision to reduce the certification level and one member of the Child Care Advisory Committee having no relationship to the program.
(C) When possible, the review panel makes a determination to either affirm or reverse the CCS decision on the date of the administrative review and announces the decision. Time constraints or the complexity of issues may require the panel to take a matter under advisement. Written findings are completed within 10-calendar days from the review date.
(6) The owner may reapply for a higher certification level any time the criteria are met. If the certification level is reduced due to serious non-compliance with licensing requirements, the program is not approved for a higher certification level for six months after the receipt of the certified reduction letter.
Change in ownership. When there is a change in ownership or change in form of business entity of a family child care home, child care center, part-day, or out-of-school time program, the case is closed and the star status is removed, unless otherwise determined per
OAC 340:110-1-9. To be approved for a higher star level, the new owner completes and submits Form 07LC025E, Request for Child Care Center Star Certification, or Form 07LC027E, Request for Family Child Care Home Star Certification, meeting all the requirements applicable to the star level requested.
Change in location. If the location of a program changes, licensing staff completes Form 07LC026E, Child Care Center Star Certification Review, or Form 07LC028E, Family Child Care Home Star Certification Review, to verify compliance with the criteria at the new location.
Record-keeping. Periodic review and certification request forms and supporting documentation are maintained in the official licensing file or in a separate file as part of the open record. When maintained, photographs of children are kept confidential.